Teenage "Drug Users" Freely Board UAE Public Transport, Causing Chaos, Concerns

  • Monday, November 08, 2010
  • By Ion Gonzaga
  • 0 Comments

I am writing to create awareness about a disturbing incident that we witnessed. This story could just be so minimal for now, but if not addressed could grow inadvertently and sensitively. What concerns this story is basically the security imposed on public buses... and secondarily how some teenagers in the region has been going beyond.

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Photo from Gulf News
This happened 2 days ago - November 5, 2010:

What we thought was just a normal bus ride became a frightening and traumatic experience.  I am with my wife onboard a public bus going to Karama-Dubai from Sharjah. It was Thursday, around 6:30pm. The bus was full with few passengers already standing, but we're lucky to find seats at the top deck. Two rows before us were 5 loud and wriggly teenage boys. At the front of the top deck were the rest of their group - about 4 more. They look like they are from Middle East region. They were talking in their native tongue, unethically shouting from front to back - as if there's no other passengers on there. The only word we understood is "Somali, Somali." They were too noisy from the start of the journey. Not too long since the bus left the terminal, we started smelling a familiar solvent used in furniture  and carpentry. We suspect it was rugby. This group got louder and they're already causing some troubles with the other passengers, particularly the one sniffing. His eyes were reddish and his voice was totally uncontrollable. One of them threw an opened bottled water in the glass window but the water hit a passenger, who just stared back at them and opted to ignore the boys. My wife saw one of them holding another bottled water but noticed something different on the other hand. It was a wet cloth that this teenage keeps pressing and sniffing. He was trying to hide it in his palms. He was the rudest among the group. Two of them holds a canned soda each, which they pass around and sniff on. This guy stares at other passengers and wanted to talk, but he was swearing I know. They laugh like drunk ducks.  The passengers behind and beside them were completely disturbed by their untoward behavior, but no one does anything.  At one point, this sniffing-boy stood up and pinpointed one standing passenger and exchanged words and 'insults,' until he was ready to throw a punch, but was pacified by his more minded companion.

My wife was really scared at that point. I wanted to call the RTA already but she prevented me from doing as I might be heard by that group and be in trouble. We decided that we'll call RTA the moment we get down (since we'll be the first to). I also wanted to let the driver know, in case the noise doesn’t reach his attention. But again, wife prevented me to be "visibly involved." If I tell the driver, we don’t know also how much power does he have to take control.  And she doesn't want the group to know and recognized me as the complainant.

About a couple of kilometers to go before our destination, we decided to go down already and wait for the stop there. We can't take the strong smell of the solvent being sniffed.   When we got down (at the Grand Hyatt Hotel), we took a cab right away and tried to shrug the shock. I called the RTA to report the incident. The call agent entertained my call and asked me to elaborate the story. So I did. And after I've given all the bus and the trip details, and as I was about to conclude, he instructed me to call the police instead, not RTA. But I asked him, and insisted if he can do that for me and he declined. It was my bad that I have not thought of the police instead of RTA.  By that time, the bus may have unloaded all its passengers already.  I only wanted to at least prevent any more chaos those kids could bring.

I wonder how do these kind of passengers get in very freely. To think, the bus drivers and inspectors are so strict in bringing in bottled waters and sodas - eating and drinking alone is prohibited.  Also, I think the CCTV monitor of the driver is improperly placed. Putting in on top of his head while driving, it's useless.  There should be some measures to prevent this from happening again. Not only my wife, but some ladies on board that top deck were also frightened - waiting for the next thing to happen.

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